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EDITORIALS

Fake News: Putting the genie back in its bottle

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Today, I will attempt to discuss the emerging global problem of disinformation or 'fake news' that confront societies in general, and journalism in particular. A particular danger is that this information is usually free, easily accessible on our favourite social networks, social messaging and digital platforms. It's our easy to reach source of information as we wake up in the morning and get on the go!

These digital platforms and networks have become the primary source for news consumption and shaping our political identities. Consequently, it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that social media now greatly influences and manipulate the traditional news media.  As such , the rise of fake news that intentionally mislead readers has become an increasing problem for the proper functioning of society.

Health Insurance towards Universal Health care

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Last week His Excellency the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio launched the first insurance scheme for Health workers. Under the Group Life Insurance Scheme, all eleven thousand frontline health workers who are engaged in the fight against COVID-19 will benefit. This is very good news!

During disease outbreaks, health workers are  at particularly high risk  of infection which sometimes lead to their loss of lives. We recall that during the Ebola outbreak, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea lost as many as 500 front line workers.

Opening the Economy amidst COVID-19 anxieties: Welcoming the new normal!

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On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This was followed by the March 11, 2020 declaration that the outbreak could be described as a pandemic due to its rapid spread across the globe.

While the direct impact of COVID-19 on morbidity and mortality is of huge concern, the number of deaths possibly resulting from its ripple effects of poverty, hunger and diseases could be far greater. It has been estimated that an additional half a billion people (8% of the global population) could be pushed into poverty and the number of people who are facing crisis levels of hunger, could increase by 130 million people.

Criminal Libel laid to rest: Advancing liberalisation and Professionalism in the Media Landscape

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On Thursday 23rd  July 2020, the Parliament of Sierra Leone amended the Public Order Act of 1965 (Act No. 46 of 1965) by repealing Part V of that law which deals with criminal libel and also enacted the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act 2020.

The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, in a tweet following the amendment said that "His Excellency the President, Dr. Julius Maada Bio has consistently argued that the repeal of (Part V of the Public Order Act of 1965) will unshackle free speech, expand democratic spaces, and consolidate our democracy."

COVID-19 Pandemic Likely to Result in Lasting Changes to schooling

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Ah at last, the school bells are ringing albeit for pupils prepping for national exams. But the feeling is good! It is a 'back to school' season like no other as we begin to reopen our school gates following weeks of enforced closures.

Schools closed for all students in Sierra Leone on March 31st and partly reopened on July 1st for students taking NPSE, BECE and WASSE. Other classes remain closed. The school closures are likely to have worsened educational inequalities, jeopardizing Sierra Leone's attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4, and all of us as citizens and parents have a duty to ensure that a temporary break in schooling does not become a permanent one for our vulnerable educational system.

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